Of all the jackets on test, the Sprayway Zao is the only one to have a Gore-Tex outer shell, making it waterproof – rather than simply water-resistant. An insulating jacket suitable for use even in heavy rain or snow will keep you warm, and it means the insulation is well-protected against the wet too. But the problem for walkers is that it can make you too warm, yet it lacks the flexibility of separate insulating and waterproof layers, where the user can strip off separate items if overheating.
The features are all here, though – adjustable, clipaway hood complete with toggles that are tucked inside the jacket; wired peak; adjustable hem and wrist cuffs; good-sized pockets; and a double stormflap over the main zip plus a soft chinguard over the top.
The double stormflaps are a great feature but they do make accessing the zip a bit fiddly. And the adjustable cuffs are an elastic/Velcro combo, which in practice, with this fabric, is a bit uncomfy.
The Sprayway Zao fits well but it’s not as warm as others. Its additional waterproof-ness makes it too heavy to be used as a ‘just in case’ warm layer, and its insulation makes it too hot to be a good waterproof.
Weight 570g (size 10)
Outer fabric Gore-Tex Performance Shell
Inner fabric nylon
Insulation 100% zoned polyester
Women’s sizes 8-18
Men’s sizes S-XXL (Kenai Fleece)
If you’re looking for an insulated jacket that’s also waterproof then the Sprayway Zao is a great choice, but its hybrid nature and heavier weight may not suit those who ‘walk hot’ and like the option of layering.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2012